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Foreign Policy

Just under a year ago, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: France, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany) made the historic announcement that they would be starting negotiations concerning Iran’s nuclear program. The goal of the negotiations was to, within six months, reach a deal to ensure Iran’s nuclear program could only be used for peaceful purposes (such as nuclear power), and in turn, have the United States roll back some of the economic sanctions placed on Iran. As a show of goodwill, the United States decided to relent with some of the sanctions (though most have been kept in place), while Iran agreed to stop enriching uranium beyond a certain point (5%)—one that could be used for non-peaceful purposes.

The past two weeks have been scary ones for Israelis and Jerusalem residents, as three separate attacks on light rail stations have left three people dead and injured a dozen more. On October 23, a Palestinian man drove his car through a light rail station near Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, killing a three-month-old infant who was also an American citizen, as well as an Ecuadorean woman. And just this Wednesday, a van rammed into another light rail station in Jerusalem, killing a border patrol agent and wounding two others. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Later that night, another van rammed into a three IDF soldiers in the West Bank, sending them to the hospital.

The attacks come in the wake of tensions over the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem. Right-wing Israeli activist Yehuda Glick was shot there last week, prompting Israeli authorities to close Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, for a day. This in turn sparked riots near Al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount (which exists essentially on the same site), and has created diplomatic tension between Israel and Jordan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a speech to the U.N.

Like many self-styled foreign policy wonks, I’ve found myself incredibly disturbed by the extremist group known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. There’s no shortage of news these days on ISIS, from what we should call them to what life is like under ISIS control to why the U.S. should attack them to why the U.S. shouldn’t attack them to wondering whether all of this is legal.